How decimation of Aravallis is taking a toll on Delhi’s air
Many reasons have been cited for the poor air quality in the national capital, but a significant part of the blame goes to the destruction wrought upon the Aravallis for short-sighted gains.
A discussion on ecology at the ongoing Aravalli Utsav in Delhi on Thursday became an occasion to dwell on how the destruction of sensitive ecosystems such as the mountain range signifies a near-suicidal apathy towards the environment.
Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary Asia and an avid environmentalist, said a misguided idea of development has laid waste to the Aravallis – sometimes called the green lungs of the Capital – causing the air quality to deteriorate. “Every step we take in the name of development today is wrong. We are only throwing petrol into the fire. Today’s discussion may be about the Aravallis, but the real problem we are facing is the four horsemen of the apocalypse: ignorance, arrogance, avarice and apathy,” he said.
Vehicles, industries and power plants are a major source of pollution in the northern belt of India, which faces an air pollution crisis almost every winter. The Aravallis ridge in the national capital helps convert carbon dioxide to life-sustaining oxygen, playing an important role in trapping pollutants and regulating the temperature.
The mountain range extends over 692 km, from Ahmedabad in Gujarat to Delhi through Rajasthan and Haryana.
“Today, more than 40% of the ridge has been destroyed, and there is no sign of the damage abating. The government is yet to demarcate its boundaries and stop encroachment,” Ravi Agarwal, director of Toxics Link and a former member of the Ridge Management Board, told HT.
The lecture was moderated by Belinda Wright, renowned environmentalist and executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, and featured Pranay Lal, an artist-biochemist in the field of public health and environment, and Vidya Athreya, a Maharashtra-based ecologist.
The Aravalli Utsav began at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in New Delhi on October 28, and will run till November 20. It is an initiative of iamgurgaon, a non-governmental organisation, in collaboration with the India Photo Archive Foundation. The event is also supported by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change and the Hindustan Times.